No more February elections

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

If there’s one thing that many candidates agreed upon during this year’s territorial election campaign in Nunavut, it’s this: mid-February is a lousy time to hold an election.

It’s no surprise that it’s election candidates themselves who are most likely to complain. They’re the ones who have to trudge door-to-door in -30 weather, in an election campaign that kicks off in the near total darkness of January. They have to beg for campaign donations at a time when everyone in Nunavut has spent every cent they have on Christmas.

So why February? The date for Nunavut’s first mid-February election, on Feb. 15, 1999, was understood to be a special, one-shot arrangement. Normally, a territorial election would have been held in the fall of that year. But it was fixed at an earlier date so that Nunavut’s first MLAs could be elected, and then given enough time to pick a speaker, premier and cabinet before Nunavut’s creation on April 1 that year. No one talked about regular February elections.

It’s not still not clear why Nunavut MLAs chose not to hold Nunavut’s second election in the fall of 2003 – it’s a decision that would have been discussed behind closed doors within caucus. Perhaps it’s because they wanted more time to ensure passage of the new wildlife and human rights laws. Or perhaps it’s because they wanted to scoop up a few extra months of pay cheques and pension-plan contributions.

Whatever the reason, it wasn’t their greatest decision. An early October election, with a campaign period starting just after Labour Day in September, makes far more sense. The weather is milder and more reliable, while most people are likely to be off the land and back in their communities.

Please. No more February elections. Let the date for Nunavut’s next election be fixed for early October 2008. JB

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